Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Opinion: Don't Put The Purchase On a Pedestal

You may know the feeling.

It's finally here. You thought this day would never come, but here it is right in front of you. You can actually reach out and touch it. You gently lift and cradle it like a newborn preemie, scared you might break it. It's beautiful. The lines. The fabric. The construction. You've been planning for days/weeks/months/years, reading reviews, collecting pictures, watching videos. But nothing could have prepared you for what it would be like holding it the first time. It's perfect.

So you carefully hang it in your closet, off to the side perhaps so there's no risk of anything touching it.

And there it sits.

Oh, it might rain today? You couldn't risk water touching it. For all we know it might melt like the Wicked Witch of the West, or die a horrible death like those stupid aliens in that M. Night Shyamalan movie who didn't realize the entire planet is water. On the other hand, the sun might come out later, and you wouldn't want to sweat in it (no sane person would). There's also a chance you might have to eat today, and what if that food was Italian, and what if that Italian had meat sauce?! Honestly, you should be given a pat on the back just for not having it shrink wrapped or hermetically sealed. It's a crazy/sunny/rainy/meat-saucy world out there. Anything could happen.

Of course I'm being hyperbolic, but it's funny how the things we cherish sometimes don't get used like they should. It's an easy problem to empathize with, especially for items that don't always age well - some of those crispy clean types of aesthetics, new sneakers, white leather, white pants...white...anything, I suppose. But there's times where I have to make a conscious effort to wear some of my favorite things - to get over that feeling that they're "too nice" to risk messing up, getting dirty, or just not wanting to deal with the hassle of laundering and ironing *ahem* linen.

Filson Restoration (picture from Complex)

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

In Review: The Early Days of the Rider - The Real McCoy's 1930s Aviator

There's a saying about owning a great leather jacket that goes something like this: the day you first receive it is the worst it will ever look.

There are few things in style that hold such enduring promise. As time goes by, a good leather jacket will mold to the body and develop a patina unique to the wearer. With quality materials, solid construction, and decent care, it can also last a lifetime or two. That's evidenced today by the number of vintage leather jackets on the market from the 1950s (and earlier) that still look incredible. And like any well-loved garment that stays with you for years, a leather jacket can be incredibly personal.

I've been spending a lot of time researching vintage and reproduction motorcycle jackets to complement my Schott Hand Oiled Perfecto, in particular looking for a cafe racer or D-pocket double rider in black horsehide. I finally found one for a great price on the other side of the world - a Real McCoy's x Harley-Davidson 1930s aviator-style D-pocket horsehide motorcycle jacket, which I had shipped from Tokyo a few weeks ago.

Full disclosure: some hardcore clothing nerdery is about to happen, so if you're looking for a short piece about getting the look at Zara, this is the exact wrong place to be.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Worth the Watch - Bill Cunningham New York

 It's not work, it's pleasure. That's why I feel so guilty.
Everybody else does work - I have too much fun.

Set aside a little time to watch "Bill Cunningham New York," a 2011 documentary (available on Amazon Instant Video, Hulu, iTunes) featuring the late fashion photographer and journalist for the New York Times who built his legacy documenting fashion trends on the streets of NYC. It's not a film about menswear or even style in a manner that may interest you or me personally, but you can't help but get drawn into his passion for life and his work (which you could argue were one and the same). Cunningham's ability to serve as society's mirror and reflect back developing fashion in real life chronicles decades of style in the US. Equally impressive was his personality and character, the combination of which is found in a person ever too rarely. I'm left wondering if they still make men like Bill Cunningham. I'm not sure they ever did before.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Motorcycle Jacket Chronicles - A Century of Leather Design and Lightning Archives Leather Jacket

I've been spending a lot of time lately reading about vintage and reproduction motorcycle jackets, an interest that sparked after buying a Naked Schott Perfecto (pictured above) a few years ago. I have to admit, though, that getting up to speed hasn't been easy. Even in this day and age, with the internet being what it is, websites that catalogue and detail that kind of information are still relatively few and far between.

In English, there are really only a few: The Art of Vintage Leather Jackets, a blog previously updated until 2015 by David Himel of the now-legendary Himel Bros Leather Co., the Vintage Leather Jackets forum, and The Fedora Lounge, which despite it's neckbeard-evoking modern connotations is actually one of the best (and friendliest) places to learn about vintage and vintage-inspired clothing. But by now it may come as little surprise to many - especially those who have read Ametora - that the people who have painstakingly researched and written about the subject are Japanese.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Suitsupply Outlet Open (Code FINALSALE)

Well. Suitsupply Outlet is open - Code FINALSALE for access.

For those that are familiar with SuSu, I needn't say more than get in there, though stock seems to be suspiciously similar to the last time the outlet doors opened in January (might even be the same) - *edit 7/18 - more stock was just added, actually*

For the uninitiated, Suitsupply is consistently recommended among menswear enthusiasts as one of the best, if not the best, value in quality suiting for the price. And that's at full price. At outlet prices, which tends to happen 1-2x a year in recent years, the prices are incredible - IF you know your sizes or what measurements work for you, as all sales are final. Different fits indeed fit very differently, so know your measurements. You should also be aware that the outlet tends to stock some of the less versatile patterns as well. So if you need a foundation suit (charcoal, navy) you probably want to just visit your nearest store.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Engineered Garments on Sale at Century 21 - Bedford Jackets ($99.99) and More

EG Bedford Jacket in Homespun Cotton, Band Collar Shirt, Fatigue Pants (as seen at End Clothing)

You truly never know what you're going to find at Century 21, which along with Barneys Warehouse and Yoox are the best online outlets around for finding true designer clearance items. Picks for C21 are usually better in store and the online site can get bogged down in filler outlet garbage, but once in a while something big will just land on the site like a straight mic drop. In this case, it's a whole lot of Engineered Garments stock - much of it some of the more favorite and approachable pieces from Daiki Suzuki's cult classic brand.

Though EG is technically an American brand (and Made in America), the design is unmistakably driven by a Japanese approach - detail obsessed with a penchant for the slightly quirky, a reverence for the reference Americana, and a fearlessness in reinterpreting that inspiration from another perspective. It's famously said that a pattern maker once remarked Suzuki's clothing was more engineered than designed.

EG Olive Field Jacket

The prices at C21 for EG on sale are lower than I've ever seen before - especially for signature styles like their iconic Bedford jacket. Check online and you'll see cotton Bedford jackets usually selling around the $200 mark on sale, with retail prices ~ $350 USD. $99 (+ free shipping) is unheard of.

If you've ever looked through an Engineered Garments lookbook before, you'll no doubt recognize the full-on aesthetic isn't for everyone. But many pieces would fit in rather easily with the average guy's wardrobe while lending just a touch of "engineered" detail. I already mentioned the Bedford pictured above, but the Baker jacket, "button front utility jacket" aka the BDU jacket and, olive field jacket are also rather approachable.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Philadelphia Shopping Guide Posted

I wrote a guide for shopping Philadelphia menswear and accessories if you're new to the city, which you can now find in the site header above. Feel free to check it out, and let me know if I missed any of your favorite stores.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Japan Shopping Maps

I've been meaning to post this for a while, but here are the maps I used to highlight points of interest and shopping locations during our trip to Japan last year (you can read my journal on it here). I also left in some landmarks we visited if you're looking for things to occupy your time. Please be aware that these maps are by no means exhaustive, but it should be a decent place to start if you've never been to the country. I hope it proves useful to you.

You can click on the "->" icon indicator on the top left of the map to expand the legend and all the stores, or the [ ] indicator at the top right to bring up each city in a new, larger tab. Some special notes below:


If there's any city in the world that's too dense to map thoroughly without visiting a hundred times, it's Tokyo. I didn't get to half of the shops I marked out, if that. Shibuya is absolutely insane, but you'll also find great stuff in Shimokitazawa (a younger, hip area 15 minutes west by train especially good for vintage and secondhand shops), Ginza for luxury stores, and Shinjuku.

Wanariya, the small shop we visited to try our hand at indigo dyeing, lies to the northeast in Taito (marked #12). And if you've never seen the Anthony Bourdain special on Tokyo, Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku is an experience like no other. I'm not sure how else to put it.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Someone Else - Stories Behind the Clothing

Inside Horween from Someone Else  (zebra shoes second from the left)
“I remember when they ran the zebras here. I was a kid. Zebra was one of the alternatives that they looked at when the horsehide availability started to become more difficult. They sent over a couple shells and I think that was all they got out of them, enough for one pair of shoes. Now I'm happier to stay away from stuff like that. They tell you that (the hides are) legitimately taken, but it's hard to check, and we want to do things in a responsible way. I can give you origin (of all current Horween leather) back to the packing house.” 
- Skip Horween

At the antique market with Yuki Matsuda
I don't recall exactly how I came across Someone Else. I do, however, distinctly remember the feeling I had the moment I realized how good it was. There's no shortage of sites and Instagram accounts filled with good looking people focused on how to quickly "get the look" these days. Everything is hyped with marketing buzzwords, and it often encourages a mindset of trying to achieve a certain aesthetic, more or less, with the least amount of contemplation necessary to do so. There aren't nearly as many sites that care to delve beyond the superficial.

Self-described as looking at what lies "under the surface of style," Someone Else at its simplest tells the stories of the people behind some of the best brands in menswear - Yuketen/Monitaly, Ebbetts Field Flannels, Horween, and so on. Everything is well-considered. The site is cleanly designed and devoid of any extra frills, the pictures are stellar, and the interviews are even better. I especially enjoyed "Hype-Free Heritage: Inside the Horween Leather Archives," but I'd highly encourage reading through their entire archives if you have the time.

And you do. You're here right now.

In a letter from the editor, they recently announced an upcoming weekly series exploring New England towns and the brands representing them as a counterpoint to a puff piece GQ put out in 2014 titled, "The New New England Thing: 7 Preppy Looks for Spring." Now who can't get behind that?

Monday, June 26, 2017

Mr. Porter - More Lines Just Added

Mr. Porter dumped a fresh batch of stock into their Spring/Summer sale just after midnight - a lot of outerwear and leather jackets from brands like Belstaff, Blackmeans, Sandro, Rick Owens, and RRL are new rather than just restocked returns, and in the span of a minute the number of pages in my size went from just a couple to nine. There are also a couple new bags in the accessories department (though generally underwhelming) and some great stock in the footwear section as well (like these Common Projects shown below - not sure I've ever seen a white colorway at this price). New stock mostly seems to be discounted at 70% off, as well.  

If you're up early in the morning and reading this, maybe skip breakfast or brushing your teeth for a few minutes so you can look through that's available things tend to get run through in a few hours once word gets out.

Just chew a piece of gum or something.

As for what happens next, it's really anyone's guess. Prior sales have hit 80% off at some point, though this year things seem to be off cycle. As always, shipping and returns are free.

Mr. Porter Sale

Monday, June 19, 2017

Worth the Read - What you know about "Genuine Leather" is probably wrong

This specific issue has been on my mind for a few years now, but I was reminded of it again when I read over a great article recently posted by North Star Leather. It's definitely worth reading, and deserves more visibility for being a rare voice of reason in a sea of copy-paste parroting.

North Star Leather - "Genuine Leather" has become a 4-letter word

From my own experience, it's hard to pinpoint exactly where it all started, but it seems to be right around the time Saddleback was becoming a household name and put out an "educational" piece called "Leather 101." I'm embarrassed to admit I remember reading it as a younger man many years ago, wide-eyed, marveling at how I had unlocked the simple secrets to quality leather, and proudly reciting my newly learned mastery to anyone that would listen (God bless my wife). Over time, journalists and influential websites started disseminating the same information, and it eventually became accepted as well-understood fact. Search it on the internet today and you'll find pages and pages of articles with easy keys to understanding quality tanned leather (often ignoring vegetable tanning entirely), grades of leather, and how the term "genuine leather" is a quick and easy buzzword letting you know that a product is made from the worst leather possible.

Head onto some widely-circulated sites like Reddit's Male Fashion Advice or TIL (Today I Learned), and you'll still commonly see those same points regurgitated down from one person to another like Moses coming down the mountain with the Ten Commandments. Thousands and thousands of people read that Reddit post and up-voted it, for example, and you'll find a ton of comments along the lines of "solid info" and "it's been a long while since a TIL actually told me something I didn't already know. Good work."

Charlton Heston famously telling someone that genuine leather is horrible

The problem is, it's simply not true. And at the very least, it isn't simple. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Mr. Porter Spring/Summer Sale Hits 70% Off

The Mr. Porter sale has hit the next tier of discounts, now up to 70% off one of the best menswear inventories around. This is the second of three expected tiers, with the last being up to 80% off. Hard to predict when that will be, but the second and third tier drops are even more hectic than the first. If you are thinking about picking something up, I'd recommend that you just do it and ponder it later. Mr. Porter sales ship free with free returns, so there's really no risk here. This is one of the main reasons that the sale is so good, and things will be moving very quickly.

I've mentioned the excellent Kingsman line before, but just wanted to throw out that these are probably the lowest prices I've seen on By Walid items. If you don't know the brand or tend to dress within the dotted lines, so to speak, the pieces may seem a bit outlandish (and still expensive), but it's rare you'll ever see this level of texture orgy done with a high level of sophistication. For excellent fits on those, check out some of these IG fits from Eric, who was previously featured in Styleforum's member focus.

Link to Sale

Kingsman x Mackintosh Field Jacket - Still Available